Happy New Year - Maury ES Renovation, ESSA and More

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Holiday Season and that 2017 is off to a wonderful beginning! I’m eager to continue building upon what we’ve accomplished in our schools across #Ward6 as I look forward to the work in front of the State Board in 2017.

Before diving in, I’d like to thank my colleagues Mary Lord (At-Large), Kamili Anderson (Ward 4), and Tierra Jolly (Ward 8) for their work on behalf of our city’s students. It’s been an honor to work with, and learn from, them. I am also excited to welcome Ashley Carter (At-Large), Lannette Woodruff (Ward 4), and Markus Batchelor (Ward 8) to the State Board of Education. And, I’d like to offer my congratulations to Councilmembers and ANC members who took office earlier today. Together, we can move our schools and communities forward, providing great educational opportunities for all students in our city.


News & Announcements:

Modernizations -- Maury ES

DCPS will be meeting with the community on January 12th at 6:00 PM at Maury ES to discuss the expansion of Maury ES and possible changes to the project with the community.  I hope that we can pack the room to show DCPS that our community takes these decisions seriously and wants to be involved.

This project, in planning for many years, has gone through considerable changes since it was originally conceived and the project’s budget was developed. Currently, DCPS is considering expansion options that would expand Maury ES to a capacity of either 457 or 539 (details are available here). Neither option provides adequate outdoor space to meet student needs as currently envisioned (all options provide less space than other elementary schools with enrollments ranging from 340 to 400 students while one option provides less outdoor space than Ross ES, which serves just 167 students). Additionally, the smaller capacity option would not accommodate the in-boundary student population and would require changes to Maury’s Boundary, the creation of a cluster with Miner, or the location of some grades at an alternative location (potentially at Eliot-Hine MS).

Ultimately, the decision will not be made by the State Board of Education nor will the Board have any role in the decision-making. However, I urge our community to consider how we can best serve our entire community, ensuring that all students receive the best possible education in a warm, welcoming and diverse environment.

I look forward to seeing you at Maury ES on Jan 12. Please come prepared to ask DCPS questions about how we can move the Maury Expansion forward in a manner that best reflects the values our community wants in our schools, in a fiscally responsible manner. For me, our values begin with diversity and inclusion. We should also be prepared to ask DCPS to explain what the different scenarios mean with regard to class size, staffing models, academic programming, and school leadership. And, if proposals for expanding the Maury budget are presented, what the changes mean for other school projects in our community.

Ward 6 Bird Count

The Winter Bird Count organized by the Brent science teacher Mike Mangiaracina is back on this year and will be held the morning of Saturday, January 7. The Bird Count is expanding to include students from across Ward 6, with J.O. Wilson Elementary School (660 K St NE) hosting this year’s event.


SBOE’s work

The State Board of Education will hold its first working session of the year on January 4, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. to discuss a number of important topics.


The working session will build on previous discussions and public engagement around the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Over the past two months, we’ve heard from a wide array of parents, community members and policy experts about recommendations for our city’s new school accountability plan. SBOE members will continue to review and discuss the viewpoints presented and we remain on course to consider a final accountability plan in early 2017. I hope to see a proposal from OSSE that incorporates more emphasis on student growth and includes non-academic measures of school success.

The SBOE is still eager to hear from you on potential accountability measures for schools that go beyond just test scores. The public can still provide input by testifying at an upcoming public meeting or by submitting comments via email at sboe@dc.gov. For more information about ESSA, including upcoming engagement opportunities and previous meeting materials, please visit sboe.dc.gov/essa and osse.dc.gov/essa.     

Physical Education Standards

At our January Working Session, the SBOE will also hear a recommendation from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education on updating District-wide physical education standards. These academic standards will cover all students from pre-kindergarten through high school age. Physical education standards were last approved in 2008



2016 was a productive year for the State Board of Education and I’m proud of the work that I’ve done with my colleagues this past year. In addition to the highlights below, the Board has pushed forward new regulations to verify residency, taken an aggressive stand to ensure every student attends school in a facility that meets their basic needs, and begun work that will move us well beyond looking at only test scores as we evaluate the success of our schools. You can click here to read the Board’s full Annual Report.


In January, the State Board overwhelming approved the awarding of a State Diploma for adult students.

Despite their hard work to pass the rigorous GED exam or complete the National External Diploma Program (NEDP), many adult learners in DC still face barriers to employment. One of these barriers was the mere fact that they were not awarded a “diploma” for their accomplishments. Approximately 60,000 District adults, 85 percent of whom are 25 or older, lack a high school diploma or its equivalency. Over 35 percent of families headed by an individual without a diploma live in poverty, and Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce predicts that by 2020 over 75 percent of jobs in DC will require a diploma. Click here to read more about how our work will impact District residents.


In 2016, the State Board passed regulations to pave the way for competency-based learning in District high schools.

Many students learn at their own pace and in unique ways, and the SBOE diligently worked to assess the validity and usage of competency-based courses. These pioneering courses give teachers the ability to help students own their learning and master material, truly setting them up for success beyond high school. These changes will allow schools to innovate with competency-based education without forcing schools to overhaul their current credit-giving framework. The State Board is eager to understand the challenges and successes of implementing this enhanced flexibility to deepen student learning and put them on the path to success. Click here to learn more about how students will benefit from the passage of these regulations.


In April, the State Board voted unanimously to update the District’s health education standards. Health education standards are vital to ensuring that students learn to be healthy, safe citizens. These standards can make a real difference in the lives of our students. From bullying to addiction, sexual health to depression, the new standards will provide students with the skills they need to be healthy for the rest of their lives. The revised standards are the product of two years of diligent work by the SBOE, Office of the State Superintendent for Education, and numerous members of the District community. OSSE and SBOE solicited input and feedback from teachers, students, practitioners, and others to develop comprehensive standards that meets the needs of our students. Click here to learn more about how students can learn to be healthy, safe citizens.


Happy New Year.

I look forward to working with you in 2017.

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